Tuesday, May 31, 2005
India is not the place for western women to buy clothes
Since I just graduated I've been thinking about getting a job. As Jonathan is more knowledgeable about interviews and what I would need to wear, he has encouraged me to get a suit while we are in India because it is less expensive here. He was buying some suits, so he thought it would be a good idea if I look for one too. So I found one store with women's suits. It is a very expensive store, much more than either one of us wanted to spend. I tried the smallest jacket on just to see how it fit, but it was huge. Jonathan decided to get his suits tailored so I decided to go ahead and do the same. As I am very tiny, I figured that would look better than trying to make an already existing suit much smaller. I don't think the tailors had ever made a suit for a woman before because for $50 I now have a suit almost identical to Jonathan's, a small man's suit. If there is a 5 foot boy with a 24 inch waist looking for a suit, I would be happy to give it to him. Otherwise, I will be taking it back tomorrow to see if they can womanize it for me.
Aqua Alta in India
What do you want to be when you grow up?
The street boys at Bosco had more modest dreams. Many of them drew themselves as bus or auto drivers. A vegetable store owner, Police, Carpenter, and Cricket or Hockey Player were other occupations that the street boys dream of. Several of them want to be doctors which seems to be a popular dream amongst children of all economic levels, but it certainly is not as easily attained for them all. One of the boys at Bosco drew that he wanted to be a doctor, but crossed it out after he was told it was impossible because he has never gone to school.
Yesterday at Bosco we met a boy who spoke English well enough to tell us his story and how he ended up on the street and at Bosco. He ran away from home after working as a weaver for a year and a half never having one day off. He said he had to wake up every day at 4:00 am and work until night with only one break for lunch. He didn't want to work because he wanted to go to school and study to become an engineer. He spent three days on the street before being taken to Bosco to live. Now he is in the eighth standard and doing very well in school.
So what do you want to be when you grow up? Jonathan and I were hoping we could encourage the children to dream higher than they may be encouraged to do so. We were surprised to find that many of the children already dreamt much higher than their parents' jobs.
As we have asked all of these children what they want to be, Jonathan and I are realizing that it is a relevant question for ourselves as we both have recently graduated. We have our degrees and we are asking ourselves if that is really what we want to do and what else we are capable of. Just like the children, I think I need to dream bigger than I expect of myself.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
I think this has something to do with a wedding...
And the plastic bag on the head actually DOES work pretty well in the rain. Hat's off to this guy!
We worked with street children which still live on the streets. They didn't know english.
A group working in the shelter learning tailoring.
The walk to the center was interesting as well.
This was the walk to the street children Bosco center.
We had a celebration today with all of the children from last week's Sukrupa group. The students are really amazing... well behaved, polite, clean, and all from the slums. There is so much love from the family that runs the center.
Jillian helped with some video.
And then we got a garland to wear on our necks as a present from Sukrupa.
Many of the children danced and sung for us. Of course I captured that on video.
After Cubon park we walked to MG Road. MG Road is a popular tourist attraction in Bangalore. It is highly commercialized and the traffic (and smog) is thick. Yet I keep seeing people selling wares from simple push carts like this fruit seller.
We went to this wierd park in Bangalore the 18th of May. It's called Cubon park, and was designed in the 1800's by the British. I think it looks like a cross between a wild amusement park and the "Secret Garden."
Created not with Autostitch, but the Canon stitch assist software bundled with new cameras
The park has an erie feeling that somehow all the parents are gone. Trash is everywhere and behind Jillian kids are shooting a gun at a canvas target for prizes. (I found it out as I walked right behind the target only to dive away before finding a pellet where I didn't want it).
Jillian by rooftop via autostitch
I really like the program that combines multiple pictures into a panorama (and it's free from www.autostitch.net). Here's another picture of a roof panorama sample, this time it's where we're staying in Bangalore. You can see the solar water heater on the left. Click it for a bigger image.
And a stone throw's away, you can find goats grazing on the roof. Yes, I said goats on the roof. No cows yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.
If you would look down from Jillian's view, you would see lots of workers constructing the house next door.
We're going back to the runaway boys
The plan then is to go for 3-5 days to a resort of some sort and refresh ourselves before returning to the states. There is one in particular we've heard good things about that is a yoga training center. I don't know much about yoga, but since we're in India and there is this center (at US$20 a day) we think it will be a good cultural experience. They focus more on the scientific side of yoga and are affiliated with universities and have a slew of M.D.'s on staff.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Bosco Mane- shelter for runaway street boys
This is one of the street children who is living at Bosco Mane.
Yesterday they gave us an interpretor and we had a bit more success. Overall it was quite a challenge, and we liked the boys enough to come back an extra day.
Last day at Sukrupa
This is where we werehelping the students' create greeting cards from cut paper. The cards will later be sold in a fundraiser to help support sukrupa (www.sukrupa.com)
I shot alot of video and the children really really enjoyed it when I turned the LCD viewfinder around to face them and they got to watch themselves in it. Of course they tended to crowd around me and back me into corners--which Jillian elegantly captured in this photo.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Spitting Orange Seeds
Gosh I think the juice is good. For orange juice, a man freshly peels 3 to 4 oranges and blends them in a blender, sifts out some pulp and seeds, and adds a little water to make a delicious slurry. The water is probably not safe to drink, but I drink it anyways--and they are ooooh soooo good!
Today we were conservative on our stomachs. I ordered no water in the juice (safer that way.) Instead we got 6 oranges blended together. We also asked for no straining out the pulp (and seeds.) To our delight this ended up in two brimming cups of AWESOME pre-chewed juice that we chewed, drank and spat seeds with for a half an hour. It was really delicious. Oh, and that was all for 15 Rupees. Remember 42 Rs. = 1 US$? Good deal.
But for us two health-food-junkees, that wasn't enough. We went for the carrot milk shake without milk or sugar. They used SOOOOOOO much carrots. I think it was at least half a kilo. This resulted in two heaping glasses of carrot juice (and i mean heaping, even if you didn't think glasses could heap). It was really good.
We then walked around some and made dinner here at our friend's house we're staying at. He lets us use his kitchen, and we had an amazing pasta and vegatable medley. His brother was here to watch us cook, and we all had a good time as Jillian and I cooked our version of "Americian Food."
My stomach's feeling much better. I even got a cold a few days back too, but that has since left me.
It's just a bruise
Bean Dish Extremely Delicious
Mix 3 parts water with 1 part beans in pressure cooker. Cook for 7-8 whistles. (Rice cooks 3-4 whistles).
On skillet heat up a little bit of oil, then add mustard seeds until they splatter. This cooks them.
Then add fresh tomatoes, onion slices, tumeric and chili powder. (optionally garlic, maybe ginger, i forget). Cook this a few minutes. I'll call this a currie.
Mix the currie with the beans and enjoy!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Sometimes we hit an exceptionally agressive driver, who will cut off motorcycles, pedestrians and four tonne busses. Then again sometimes it turns out anti climatic-- like when he runs out of gas and slams to an abrupt stop. He told us it would only be half a kilometer to our house. Two hours later and 2 liters of water and 1 glass of freshly made orange juice, we arrive. Walking all the way home actually came in handy last night as we then knew how to give better directions when auto's get lost.
I'll note that never have I seen a female auto rickshaw driver.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
My apologies to the autorickshaw drivers in Bangalore
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Where's an autorickshaw when we need one?
streets of Bangalore
It is difficult for me to see the poverty in the streets, but I don't know what to do about it. Just in our drive to the train station in Chennai at five a.m. a few days ago I probably saw at least 2 dozen people sleeping on the side of the road, just feet away from the traffic.
Start of Sukrupa
Lessons in politeness
children of Sukrupa
Friday, May 20, 2005
Bangalore brief update
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Bangalore day 1
My stomach's on the mend.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
What I learned from our first art camp
The children seemed to enjoy the week, but I was a bit disappointed. The classes seemed a bit chaotic. I think the problem was the age difference in the children. We had children as young as 6 and as old as 13. While the older children seriously worked on the puppets, the younger children got bored. They have a shorter attention span and sometimes had trouble understanding what we were doing. I think this workshop would have been more successful if the children were closer in age, but that is always a challenge of the teacher- different levels of ability.
I just thought. Hmm. If it was powdered soup, I hope it wasn't made from tap water that wasn't boiled. Enough of that, i'll stop thinking like a sick person. I'll be great!
night. Tomorrow we freight over to Bangalore. I say freight because it seems my luggage is growing by leaps and bounds. I got 4 pairs of nice shoes for the price of half of one in the states. And half a dozen or more dress shirts for the price of one. And, well I'll not reveal the number of paperback books I got. But many of you know how I like to read... and can't pass up awesome books for under $2 or $1 each.
Nothing happened yet with my stomach, so I'll hopefully be back to my cheerful, energetic self in no time!
Monday, May 16, 2005
We can find influences of the west everywhere. It's remarkable how powerful commerce can be--and how unifying. Accross every cultural barrier, it seems anybody can enjoy a Baskin Robbins 31 flavors.
Jillian by rooftop
Steadycam morning encounter with fisher-folk
On the other hand, it wasn't as bad as I expected it would be. A throng did not follow us, although when we were on the beach a boy started talking to us. He was first excited to be on camera, then he said, "You RICH!" I said, "No, not actually--we are not." He said, "I live simple life... I'm sorry for you." "I sorry." He said it was sorrowful to be "rich," which we are in a relative sense.
Then another fisher-folk, this time an adult, started talking to us. He invited us to see his house. After a bit of discussion we trekked to his house, number 37. I was under the impression that he was a very poor fisherman. Yet, I was surprised when I saw a television, modern cooking stoves and brand name plastic wrapped cookies for the grandchildren. He wanted to take us on a boat ride in the Bay of Bengal, but we declined. After finally extricating ourselves from his house (his family was talkative), we hurried back for breakfast at our host family.
Upon reviewing the video, I am less than satisfied. I'll have to return to the street again today for another shot. Because of our excitement, we walked too fast, I didn't hold the camera level, and there wasn't cohesion in what I filmed. Take two, here I come.
Trying to not create a big scene. While I am getting better at being bold shooting video, I still feel ackward using this expensive western technology when some poor people on the street must feel jealous or contemptful l towards me.
The fuzzy thing is a "dead cat" (or so it's called) that reduces wind noise on the microphone. I had to give it a haircut today, as it kept getting a bit of fuzz into the video recording scene.
Myself, with host family "grandma and grampa"
Dinner and a drive
Last night we had dinner with a family we know from our art camp. Afterwards, I rode back to our house on the back of a scooter. It was quite exciting, bumping around about at night on my seat behind the trusty Indian driver.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
The heat is on
The heat makes everything move slowly here. People walk slowly on the street. We have to be careful not to step on the dogs that are too hot and tired to move. They look dead. We're lethargic. Jonathan has about half the energy he normally has. He has taken up the routine of the couple we are living with- get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then lay on the bed under the fan.
We're getting used to being sweaty and sticky. The air conditioning at the internet cafe hasn't been working. It is in a basement where there are no windows for ventilation. By the time we left yesterday, Jonathan was soaked. He was as wet as I was when the giant wave hit me.
I never thought I would enjoy cold showers, but now they have become my favorite part of the day.
Every story needs to be about something
Two month’s ago I was close friends with a sum total of less than half a dozen people of Indian descent. Now I have dozens, and Jillian and I are scheduled to bring her Art Camp to over three dozen more children in four separate organizations. We didn’t have contacts in India to visit and volunteer, nor did we have the budge to pay and volunteer with an organized group—but I emailed, searched online, and talked to as many Indian people as I could—and they welcomed us to their country. We now live with a fantastic host family, and have another planned in our next city. We have met with and discussed in depth about the country with half a dozen adults.
The point is: never think something is out of the realm of possibility. Never doubt your own potential. If Jillian and I started thinking that it would be too hard to create a summer camp in under 6 weeks for children half way around the world, we would still be sitting in West Lafayette. Uncertainty is a fact of life, and people can become more effective when they understand how to thrive in it. If the uncertainty of landing in a country and not knowing where we would stay the night of our arrival was too burdensome—we would not be here now.
I want other people to see something they want—and tenaciously run after it. To capture the prize through intensely hard work. I just graduated in Industrial Engineering from the number four IE school in the country – and had school work a-plenty to in the last month while we planned this trip. Going here meant much sacrificed sleep, missed exercise and less time with friends. Nothing worth having comes without giving up something valuable.
Every one of us is writing the story of our life. No matter what we choose we are scribing on the pages of our life in indelible ink with every action and inaction. I do not plan on relishing in the ending years of my life that I avoided this adventure, or saved myself from that inconvenience—but that I drank deep and sucked out every last drop of the marrow of life.
Problem with me telling the story
I believe the journey Jillian and I make as we dive deep into
We’ll ask the children to draw themselves as they dream they’ll be when they grow up. We’ll have them create self portraits. We'll ask about earliest childhood memories, family life, favorite activities and for lessons they can teach us. This will be repeated accross many other groups in India. Next week I can't wait to start working with street boys in a shelter. Oh how different of a life experience they will bring!
I want to tell a story
I want to tell a story through creating a book or DVD of our experience with the children here. Why?One word: influence.
I believe influence occurs through two methods:
1) personal interaction
I cannot personally interact with as many people as I wish to influence. I must learn the art of storytelling. Leadership is influence, and influence is social change, and social change (in my goals) is positive betterment for the human race.
Stories have been a tool of instruction from the beginning of time. Fables, parables, nursery rhymes, songs, dances and the like all have shaped the way millions have carried out their lives.
I love to read, and some of my deepest held beliefs and goals have come through messages an author put to paper, and made available through publishing. Dale Carnegie, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Benjamin Franklin, Brian Tracey, Patch Adams, the authors of the Bible, the list goes on and on.
I want Americans to read the story of Art View (
Our neighborhood and there-abouts
a street near where we are staying. I stitched the images together with this amazingly awesome software called, "autostitch." It takes a bunch of pictures and automatically connects them together for a large image. It is free as well.
This is the beach five minutes away from our house. It's a beautiful place, but there is a rip tide. So we didn't swim, just walk by the shore.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
How many times can I say autorickshaw?
wealth is relative
Everything is so much cheaper here in India(except electronics). We have been doing some shopping, mostly buying books and clothing. Yesterday we went to a Fashion store where we had about 6 people waiting on us. It seemed like they pulled out about half of the clothes in the store wanting us to try them on. They gave us excellent service. Jonathan bought about 6 dress shirts for less than U.S $50.
This is where we live
This is the house we live in with a host family. The we've in the bottom level. It's an apartment building that was built when our host family sold their house to some developers who in turn built them this and gave them some flats.